In Ancoats, New Islington Marina has established itself as one of the most attractive spots for an afternoon of al fresco drinking and dining close to town. Combining 21st Century aesthetics with a heritage waterway location, while it screams ‘Saturdays in summer’ it’s a great spot year round, offering some real gems of Manchester’s bar scene. House of Esk is among our favourites, a cosy canal side establishment that contrasts many of the modern offerings nearby with a rustic charm nodding to the finest of traditional drinking dens. Meanwhile, outside the large terrace is one of the best sun traps you’ll find for a few miles.
Back indoors, the bar offers plenty, but one of the biggest selling points is the extensive wine list. The range comprises a truly international selection, and you’re likely to find a few bottles you won’t see in many other places. Cocktails are another hit, with a seasonal signature creation changing as the months unfold and expertly conceived by keen mixologists. There’s also an entire negroni menu, which should be enough to prove how seriously they take things. So plenty of playful yet authentic options to go at.
Suffice to say, beers live up to the expectations set by other drinks; there’s a broad range on offer. Glasses are filled to incredibly good tunes, and the atmosphere reflects this. Events-wise, there’s a regular quiz night on Wednesdays, and as Esk is known for its friendliness — staff and clientele — it’s a relatively relaxed contest, so think fun rather than super-competitive. And there’s a final round of Play Your Cards Right, which is always a good thing. Beyond all that, there are frequent wine tasting events, usually involving guests sampling six bottles with input and insight from viticulture experts guiding you through the experience. Oh, and the place is dog friendly. What more could you ask for?